Injured workers generally must provide notice of their accident to their employers within 45 days to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois.
You must provide notice of the accident to your employer as soon as practicable, but not later than 45 days. 820 ILCS 305/6(c) Illinois General Assembly | IWCC PDF. If you do not give proper notice to your employer, your claim will be denied and you will not receive any workers’ compensation benefits.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act also includes the following provision:
“No defect or inaccuracy of such notice shall be a bar to the maintenance of proceedings on arbitration or otherwise by the employee unless the employer proves that he is unduly prejudiced in such proceedings by such defect or inaccuracy.” 820 ILCS 305/6(c)(2) Illinois General Assembly | IWCC PDF.
Interpreting this provision, Illinois courts have said that “a claim is only barred if no notice whatsoever has been given.” Tolbert v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, 2014 IL App (4th) 130523WC Google Scholar | Illinois Courts PDF. “If some notice has been given, but the notice is defective or inaccurate, then the employer must show that he has been unduly prejudiced.” Silica Sand Transport, Inc. v. Industrial Commission, 197 Ill. App. 3d 640 (1990) Google Scholar.
It is generally recognized that the purpose of such a notice provision is both to protect the employer against fraudulent claims by giving him an opportunity to investigate promptly and ascertain the facts of the alleged accident and to allow him to minimize his liability by affording the injured employee immediate medical treatment.
United States Steel Corp. v. Industrial Commission, 32 Ill. 2d 68 (1964) Google Scholar.
Notice in Repetitive or Cumulative Trauma Cases
The notice requirement also applies to repetitive trauma cases. In such cases, your date of accident is the date that your injury “manifests” itself – when the causal connection between your injury and work duties would be plainly apparent to a reasonable person – and you must provide notice within 45 days of your accident date. White v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, 374 Ill. App. 3d 907 (2007) Google Scholar | Illinois Courts PDF; Durand v. Industrial Commission, 224 Ill. 2d 53 (2006) Google Scholar | Illinois Courts PDF.
Notice in Radiological Exposure Cases
In the special case of exposure to radiological materials or equipment, the Act requires notice “within 90 days subsequent to the time that the employee knows or suspects that he has received an excessive dose of radiation.” 820 ILCS 305/6(c)(2) Illinois General Assembly | IWCC PDF.
Time for Giving Notice Tolled While Receiving Certain Group Health Benefits
If you missed the notice deadline, you may still be in luck if you received benefits under a group health plan covering non-occupational disabilities that 1) was paid or partially paid for by your employer; and 2) should not have been payable if you had a valid workers’ compensation claim. “In such event, the period of time for giving notice of accidental injury and filing application for adjustment of claim does not commence to run until the termination of such payments.” 820 ILCS 305/8(j) Illinois General Assembly | IWCC PDF.
Notice in Claims under the Illinois Occupational Diseases Act
Claims made under the Illinois Occupational Diseases Act are not subject to the general 45-day requirement as in the Workers’ Compensation Act. Rather, the statute provides:
There shall be given notice to the employer of disablement arising from an occupational disease as soon as practicable after the date of the disablement. If the Commission shall find that the failure to give such notice substantially prejudices the rights of the employer the Commission in its discretion may order that the right of the employee to proceed under this Act shall be barred.